In the so-called debate between Clinton and Trump on 11/7, on MSNBC, moderator Matt Lauer took a lot of heat from commentators. Among many complaints, was that he was sexist because he repeatedly interrupted Hillary and didn't with Donald.
Critics also claimed that he lobbed softball questions to Trump but was very hard on Clinton, spending an entire 10 minutes focusing on her e-mail controversy. Lauer, at the beginning of the forum, absurdly asked the candidates not to attack one another, a request which they ignored. But, later on, Lauer only reprimanded Clinton for disobeying his request.
Most egregiously, Mr. Lauer allowed Mr. Trump to repeat, unchallenged, the false claim that he had opposed the war in Iraq when, as a matter of public record he supported the invasion in 2002. Polifact found Trump lied many times during the debate but Lauer had no follow up questions to challenge Trump.
The most scathing criticism of Lauer and the whole show came from Lt. Colonel Andrew Bacevich on Rachael Maddow's post forum show. Col. Andrew Bacevich, who is a scholar, scolded, "At a discussion of national security issues and the sort of things we want to hear from a prospective commander in chief, it's really been a missed opportunity."
Bacevich asked questions he thought should have been asked, including such basics as: "What have you learned from our unsuccessful wars of the past couple decades, and how would you apply those lessons," "Does the U.S. have a national interest in the Middle East, "What is your understanding of the complexities of the Syrian civil war?" and "Do you support Obama's spending $1trillion to modernize nuclear weapons."
He concluded, "Those are the items that ought to be on a commander in chief's agenda, and they weren't even asked."
But NBC 's Phil Griffin who serves as the president and director of day-to-day operations held a press conference today defending moderator Lauer as a storm of criticism from both the left and right would not abate.
"Look, we're not in the business of fact-checking Trump or anyone else. We try to keep are programming as fact free as possible, unless it comes to poll results. We don't expect our moderators to know much about policy. Bacevich is an intellectual who writes books."
" Our viewers aren't interested in digging deep into the complexities of anything, they don't even know what foreign policy is. Bacevich should stick to getting his writing published for the tiny number of Americans who can understand it," said Griffin.
When asked if he thought Lauer was sexist and unfair to Secretary Clinton he said, "What do I care? We had a viewership of 10 million, the greatest share of the market, and Lauer kept them viewing. Our sponsors are very happy."
A reporter from the Washington Post asked Griffin if the kid gloves treatment of Trump didn't give him an advantage in the debate.
"Don't you get it, Trump is too smart for us. He's as slippery as deer guts on a doorknob," said Griffen revealing his Southern roots. "You can't pin him down if you try."
"TV gave him much more coverage than the other GOP candidates because he's a bomb thrower. He throws one grenade after the other and it's an entertainment spectacle. Our viewers like that, so we cover him. Sure he's a lying sociopath, and a creep who talks about dating his daughter, as well as thin-skinned dangerous bully who should never have his little fingers on the nuclear button. He's a monster and we're the Frankenstein who created him. But we've made a lot of money doing it and that 's the name of the game," said Griffen.
Griffen concluded, If you don't like profit-driven commercial TV abolish it and replace it with a bunch of public television shows like the one's on PBS - Bill Moyers, Nova, Science Quest, and the Life of Moths. You deprive people of the soaps, reality and game shows and you're asking for a bloody revolution." Just learn to say, President Trump, he concluded.